3/23/14

Triathlon Science By Joe Friel and Jim Vance - Book review


When I started graduate school in the fall of 2004, I saw myself as a former college swimmer. I was exercising to stay in shape but I really missed competition. 
As a long-time athlete, my mind functions best with structure. When it comes to exercising, I enjoy it but I like to have a plan. I like to work hard within my plan, knowing that I am moving closer to my goals. 
Exercising is fun and it makes me feel healthy but a structured plan helps my body get faster, stronger and more powerful for a bigger goal than just to "be healthy."

During my studies to earn a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, I started to inch my way into endurance sports. Well, more like jump in with a smile on my face as I starting training for my first marathon without ever completing more than a 10K road race. 

Throughout my educational career, I found myself overwhelmed with the information that pertained to the human body in motion. Although I was forced to learn it in order to pass my classes, it wasn't until I started to apply the information to my training (more so than when I was studying Exercise Science in under grad as a collegiate swimmer) for my first marathon did I really begin to grasp a good understanding the physiology of the body as well as metabolic processes. 

When it comes to coaching athletes, I find it more important to accept the human body and to thank it for what it allows us to do on a daily basis than to constantly try to challenge it, always expecting it to be better, slimmer or fitter. 
Many times, athletes improve just be following a structured plan but if athletes can learn how to train smarter, not only is the athlete more respectful to the body during intentional physiological stress but there's a greater sense of enjoyment when it comes to receiving performance gains. Although we, as athletes, do want to challenge and test the body in order to discover our greatness, it's important that we, as athletes, accept how physiological adaptations are made. Sometimes we get quick, strong or fast rather quickly and other times, it takes a while to receive gains (ex. improved aerobic threshold). 

When Human Kinetics contacted me to review Triathlon Science, I jumped on the opportunity to add another well-written book of information to my textbook library. 


This book is filled with information and when I saw filled- 651 pages to be exact. 
There is a long list of knowledgeable contributors, each with a specialty area that is included in a chapter in this book. 

Although some of the information may not get you excited like I get when I read about the physiology of the body during exercise, I feel that reading this book will give you a great understanding of all that is involved when it comes to training smart, training hard and keeping your body healthy, strong and injury free. 
As an athlete, it's likely that you do not grasp the science of the body during exercise and that is OK. You are not suppose to and that is why there are individuals who devote their careers to coaching athletes like yourself so all you have to do is follow a plan. 
But if find yourself wondering why you are not improving as quickly as you would like, or if you find yourself signing up for racing and struggling to stay consistent with training, or if you find yourself wanting to "become one" with your body and mind and to learn how to have a better relationship with your body (and perhaps be a bit more appreciative of how awesome your body is and all that it allows you to do) I would recommend to get this book for there is a chapter that is written just for you!


My number one concern with endurance athletes (or any multisport athlete) is expecting too much out of the body too soon. Whether it's wanting to be fast and to have the endurance to go fast or making the body to do too much distance, too soon in a training plan, it's a common issue that I hear from athletes that the basic understanding of training the human body for performance gains is not well understood. 

This book will help!

Physical Attributes of Triathletes
Chapter 1: Physiology and the Multisport Athlete
Chapter 2: Genetics and Inheritance in Triathlon Performance
Chapter 3: Gender and Age considerations in triathlon 

Technical Execution and Efficiency in Each Event
Chapter 4: Swimming biomechanics for triathlon
Chapter 5: Cycling biomechanics for triathlon
Chapter 6: Running biomechanics for triathlon 

Environmental factors and equipment options
Chapter 7: In the water
Chapter 8: On the bike
Chapter 9: For the run
Chapter 10: Triathlon Training Technologies
Physiological Function in Triathlon Training
Chapter 11: Aerobic capactiy
Chapter 12: Economy
Chapter 13: Anaerobic Threshold
Chapter 14: Muscle Types and Triathlon Performance
Chapter 15: Fatigue resistance and recovery

Training modes and methods for triathletesChapter 16: Warm-up and cool-down
Chapter 17: Flexibility and core-strength
Chapter 18: Strength Training
Chapter 19: General and specific training
Chapter 20: Interval Training

Training strategies in triathlon 
Chapter 21: Duration, frequency and intensity
Chapter 22: Periodization
Chapter 23: Tapering and peaking for races
Chapter 24: Physiology of overtraining

Training base building for triathlonChapter 25: Swim base building
Chapter 26: Bike base building
Chapter 27: Run base building

Multisport event-specific training and racing tacticsChapter 28: Sprint
Chapter 29: Olympic
Chapter 30: Half Ironman
Chapter 31: Ironman
Chapter 32: Duathlon
Chapter 33: Combination workout training

Sport Medicine for TriathletesChapter 34: Triathlete body maintenance and medical care
Chapter 35: Triathlon injuries and preventive measures
Chapter 36: Triathlon injury recovery techniques

Nutrition for triathletes
Chapter 37: Energy needs, sources and utilization
Chapter 38: Nutrition periodization
Chapter 39: Nutrient timing for triathlon training and racing
Chapter 40: Supplements for triathletes

Psychology of MultisportChapter 41: mental toughness for triathlon
Chapter 42: Psychology of triathlon training
Chapter 43: Mental skills for peak triathlon performance
Epilogue: The Application of Science in Triathlon 

As you can see, there is a wealth of information from Joe Friel and the other contributors. 
The wonderful thing about sports is that the information to improve fitness, to fuel better and to build mental toughness is constantly evolving. As important as it is for coaches to keep up with research, webinars and real-world experiences, it is also important to recognize that the human body is unique and reacts differently to different situations. You will probably find that there are many different philosophies when it comes to training and fueling, perhaps some "by the book" and a few that break the mold as to the right vs. new way of helping the body reach performance gains. 

As an athlete, it's important that you not only do your research when selecting a coach or training plan to help your body train for a race but also, take some time to do some research on yourself. 
The better you understand your own body, when it is at rest as well as when it is active, the more you will appreciate how amazing it is when you ask it to swim, bike and/or run fast, strong or long.

I was not paid to write this review. I was provided the book for free and was asked to provide a review on the book.

My 2nd marathon was the 2006 Boston Marathon, just a few months after a finished graduate school. 

This was the start of my endurance racing career as an age-group athlete and the start of me being incredibly grateful for what my body allows me to do through sport. 
Since 2006 (24 years old), I have finished 7 Ironman triathlons and 7 half ironman triathlons (and a bunch of triathlons and running races). That's over 1476.3 miles of endurance-specific swimming, biking and running in 8 years....WOW!! Thank you body!!!